On January 6, 1494, Christopher Columbus officially founded “La Isabela,” the first European settlement to be built in the New World.

The settlement was named after the Queen of Spain. In spite of the prestigious name, the settlement did not last very long.

By the end of the 15th century, the settlement had been abandoned and the colonizers had moved on to found the cities of La Vega, in the country’s central region, and the capital city of Santo Domingo.

Visitors to “La Isabela” must first stop in the town of “El Castillo,” situated a short distance from Luperon, in the province of Puerto Plata. The highway is in good condition, and getting to it easy.

Today, the ruins of “La Isabela” are there for everyone to visit. The remains of the colonial settlement are situated within the recently established “La Española” National Park.

There is a small museum exhibiting ceramic, stone and iron artefacts discovered during various archaeological excavations. Beside the ocean are the remains of what once were the walls of the settlement.

Also found are the ruins of the home originally built by Christopher Columbus, as well as the foundation of the first church built in the Americas and of the town’s warehouses.

Clearly visible are the remains of the Spanish cemetery and an open tomb with the visible remains of a colonizer who died during the first years of the colonization process.

For more information, visitors should contact the Vice Ministry of Protected Areas: 809 567 4300, or write to them at areas.protedias@ambiente.gov.do

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